Addiction Studies Institute
Consistent with the mission of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and Kutztown University, the purpose of the Addiction Institute of the Social Work program is to provide a nexus of scholarship, curricular innovation, and community-based solutions in which the program provides leadership in regionally recognized areas of expertise.
John Conahan, LCSW, ACSW, CDAC, PhD
Dr. Sharon C. Lyter
Dr. Juliana Svistova
Dr. John Vafeas
Dr. Fang-Hsun Wei
Community Activities and Presentations
Dr. Conahan is Chair of the Board of Directors for The Gate House, Lancaster, PA. AY 2016-2018
Dr. Conahan is Board Consultant for Kutztown Strong, Kutztown, PA. AY 2016-2017
- Kutztown Strong Berks-Mont news article March 14, 2018
- Kutztown Strong Berks-Mont news article August 17, 2017
Mr. Kovarie is President of the Board of Directors for Treatment Access and Services Center, Reading, PA
The Institute of Addiction Studies has acted as a catalyst to build an alliance across the Department of Social Work's BSW, MSW, and DSW programs into the local community. Through the natural progression of responding to the needs in the community, a solution and plan of action has been crafted. The outcome of the plan has brought resources, supports and expertise to the local community in the form of assessments, plan and program implementations, evaluations, knowledge dissemination, practice opportunities, and service to neighbors.
Wei, F, Stere, M.J., & Goodman-Hinnershitz, Marcia. (2021, February 18). Substance Use Among Youth Populations in Eastern Pennsylvania Schools, Eastern Educational Research Association (EERA) 2021 Conference, Virtual.
Conahan, J.,October 11, 2018. Community and University Collaboration: Responding to the Opioid Crisis. Southwestern Social Science Association, Orlando, FL
Conahan, J., Toth, C. & McKlveen, S.(BSW student), 2018, Case Study: Kutztown StrongCollaboration with an Engaged University
For upcoming publication, community responses to the lives lost due to the current opioid epidemic vary. Presence of leadership, availability of resources, skills in community organization and volunteerism rates all play a significant role in a community's capacity to respond and create change at the population level. The case study will examine one community's efforts to meet the needs in their area by defining the local substance abuse problem and effectively bringing change to produce positive outcomes.
Svistova, J. & Fernandez, L. (BSW student), April 2018, Upcoming presentation on Local Barriers to Treatment and Sustained Recovery
An exploratory study of barriers to substance abuse treatment in Berks County. Several significant findings emerged from data analysis. Research participants consistently brought up insurance and funding issues, access and availability of transportation, misinformation about medically assisted treatment, presence and availability of services as key barriers to seeking and receiving treatment. Some participants identified that methadone and tramadol use are commonly excluded from criteria for sobriety, and therefore many people in need are denied medically assisted treatment. AA rules and principles were also perceived as barriers to recovery due to discriminatory or exclusionary essence in relation to ex-methadone users. Media influence, conditions in rehabilitation centers, motherhood, and intersections of mental health, disability, and substance abuse were reported as playing an important role in the recovery process and need to be studied more in-depth in the future studies. Lastly, those participants who attempted recovery several times, reported that interpersonal relationships with other persons using, peer pressure and being "sucked in back," as well as "coming back to reality" played a significant role in their relapse.
Marsh, B. C. (Kutztown University/Millersville University Doctoral Student), Nonprofit Governance Board Assessment and Recommendations to Ensure Organizational Sustainability and Effectiveness
An in-depth assessment of the Kutztown Strong governance board utilizing an online survey tool and the qualitative process of interviewing board members. The outcome of the research was a series of recommendations for the board to facilitate discussions in areas of strengths and needs so that performance, sustainability, and organizational effectiveness might be furthered.
Wei, F. H., November 2017. Responding to a Community's Questions Regarding Local Youth's Substance Use Behaviors.
Community-specific analysis of Kutztown's Pennsylvania Youth Survey data to identify the risk and protective factors that characterized local youth reporting substance use behaviors. The results found that parents' attitude towards illegal substances use, family history of antisocial behavior, and youth peer's attitude toward illegal substance use play significant roles in youth substance abuse behaviors.
Bender, W., October 2017. School-based Substance Abuse Prevention Program Outcomes.
Having an extensive background in the administration of chemical dependency and mental health programs that spans more than 30 years, Prof. Bender discussed the history and development of the LifeSkills program, its purpose, and its learning objectives.
Data gathered by teachers was then summarized collaboratively by Kutztown Strong staff and faculty of the Kutztown University, Department of Social Work, and Institute of Addiction Studies found 78 percent of the youth had a better understanding of the harmful effects of drug use after completing the course. Additionally, 62 percent of the students reported they were now less likely to approve of peer's use of drugs, 43 percent increased skills in knowing alternate means of reducing anxiety, and 29 percent increased their knowledge of media's potential negative influence on behavior.
Conahan, J., January 2017. Nonprofit Community Board Strategic Planning.
Strategic planning provides direction for organizations. The process sets long-range plans in place for the purposes of achieving mission goals while working within the parameters of the organization's values. Through a series of strategic planning sessions and an environmental listening project facilitated by Dr. Conahan, Kutztown Strong came to envisions a future where youth are empowered to make healthy, informed decisions. The coalition plans to achieve their goal by supporting the implementation of evidence-based substance abuse prevention programming in schools, connecting community resources to create healthy afterschool activities, raising awareness and educating parents and other community members on a broad range of topics that enhance healthy youth development.
Toth, C. & McKlveen, S. (BSW student), 2016, Kutztown Community Youth Survey
The Pennsylvania Youth Survey is an assessment tool used to monitor youth substance use behaviors and trends. Assessment is free to any public, private or charter school in the state of Pennsylvania. The survey instrument is administered to students in the 6th, 8th, 10th, and 12th grades every odd-numbered calendar year. Kutztown Strong, driven by the values of social justice, wisdom, and knowledge, set a goal to hear the voices of all the students in their school district. Soliciting the services of the Institute of Addiction Studies enabled the coalition to independently take responsibility for conducting the survey in the years the state did not. Data analysis by Wei, F. & Stere, M. J. (MSW student)
Toth, C. May 3, 2016. Women and Alcohol. Reading, PA
Asayag, J & Wei, F. H. October 15, 2015. Review of substance abuse treatment outcomes. State College, PA.
Corbett, C. & Sharma, Y., Department of Social Work, October 5, 2014. Mediating factos between bonding systems and violent behavior among female youths. 2014 CSWE, Tampa, FL.
Sharma, Y. & Pillai, V (November, 2013). Substance abusing women with HIV/AIDS and vulnerability to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Annual Program Meeting of Council of Social Work Education (CSWE), Dallas, TX.
Conahan, J. (May 10, 2005). Training series on passive restraint with children: Strategies for staff and foster parents. Presentation at Lehigh County Catholic Social Services.
Conahan, J. (March 31, 2005). Social Work Leadership: Organizational Challenges to Gender-Specific Chemical Dependency Treatment. Presentation at the Pennsylvania NASW Conference.
Conahan, J. (January 2005). Gender Specific Chemical Dependency Treatment. Presentation at the Lehigh Valley NASW Chapter.
Conahan, J. (May 2002). Women's Trauma and Addiction: New Approaches, Better Outcomes. Presentation at Princeton House Conference on Women and Addiction, Princeton New Jersey.
Conahan, J. (June 2001). Clinical Supervision for Addiction Treatment Professionals. Presentation at University of Utah School of Alcoholism.
Conahan, J. (June 2000). Addiction treatment with adolescents and clinical supervision. Presentation at University of Utah School of Alcoholism.
Research and Publications
Wei, F.H., Stere, M.J., Goodman-Hinnershitz, M. (2020). Proective and Risk Factors of Alcohol Use Among Southeastern Pennylvania Youth. Social Development Issues, 42(3), 109-120
Svistova, J. (2017). University Funded Research Grant. Barriers to Substance Abuse Treatment in Berks County, Pennsylvania: A Qualitative Study.
Conahan, J. (2015). A Comparison of Need Within A Social Business Model: Residentially Stable and Residentially Unstable Substance Abusers. Journal of Social Sciences. Journal of Social Sciences, 3 (9).
Conahan, J. & MacIntyre, D. (2012). Addressing the Needs of Homeless Substance Abusers: A social business model. International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, 6(8), pp. 153-164.
Conahan, J. (2005). Organizational structure and its relationship to the delivery of gender-specific drug and alcohol services.
Beyer, E., & Conahan, J. (2002). Females with Dual Diagnoses: Implications for Specialized Clinical Approaches. In D., F. O'Connell (Ed.), Managing the Dually Diagnosed Patient: Current Issues and Clinical Approaches. The Haworth Press.
Conahan, J.A. (1999). How An Established Chemical Dependency Treatment Center Manages Change, Behavioral Health Management, March/April 1999.
Lisnow, F.D. & Conahan, J.A. (1989). Treating Cocaine Addiction, The Counselor, November/December 1989.
SWK559 Social Work Intervention with Substance Abusing Population
SWK561 Motivational Interviewing Skills: Social Work Strategies in Gender Sensitive Addiction Treatment
SWK562 Best Practices in Addiction Treatment
SWK286 Social Work and Substance Abuse
EDW502 Substance Abuse in Adolescents: Classroom Strategies for Teachers
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